Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Findin' My Style in Barcelona

Before coming to Spain, I was in a bit of a slump. Most people who were and are close to me know of the place that I started in before coming here. I'm not talking about the physical place of Toronto, but yes, that is where I came from. I'm talking about the emotional, mental and spiritual places that I came from.

I wasn't exactly sure what I would find on this side of the world, and I know in some aspects, I found much more than I was expecting to find.

In terms of physical space, I've found Barcelona to be very much appealing to me. I have heights to climb to for a view of the city and perspective. I've found beautiful scenery in the mountains that surround the city, the parks within and the art installations around the city. I've found somewhat cleaner air (in certain areas), knooks and crannys, streets and alleyways, hidden gem stores and more bakeries and cafe's than I can hope to visit! I've also found water- my source for renewal, contemplation, and relaxation. Physically, I love Barcelona.

Emotionally, Barcelona has presented me with a roller coaster of emotions. Excitement and joy at being here to begin with, feelings of accomplishment and pride knowing that I'm here and among the top in my TEFL class. Sadness at times and loneliness, having missed two family holidays now, as well as other events and occasions I would have liked to be in Canada for. Hopefulness that I'll be able to stay, make money and possibly visit home at some point (don't anyone get your hopes up too high, I'm not rolling in dough yet!) Feelings of attachment and loss over my classmates as we became close and then as they've started to leave Barcelona, respectively. The array of emotions has not surpassed any other time, place or experience in my life, however, I feel that my emotions are magnified here: they are bigger than they ever have been. For those of you who know me well, again, you know that I'm an emotional being- I feel everything. Imagine what I'm feeling now! (For the most part, I feel happiness at having made it here, and begun to make a life for myself, however temporary or permanent).

Mentally, I was in a bad place a lot of the time in Canada. For whatever reason, life just didn't seem to be going in any particular direction. I had friends who were getting promotions into positions that made perfect sense for them (things they had been working towards), getting married, buying houses, having children, and I was... an assistant in a law firm? How did that happen? I wasn't with anyone special and had not been for quite some time, despite the wishes of my mother (who wants more grandchildren that apparently my sister isn't providing at the moment, and so the task is left to me.. you might be waiting a while for that one mom). My life was just confusing me more than anything. I was working so hard and trying so hard to be... what? I wasn't sure. I'm still not positive actually, but I'm getting a clearer picture of that. So I went to my list of 'things to do before I die' (props to RP for coming up with the idea all those years ago to write these things down and DO them!) and I decided that if there was ever a time in my life that was perfect to take such a leap, it was now. No house, no car, no man, no kids, no pets, nothing that I can't do without (for a while anyway). Don't get me wrong, I weighed in the probability of what not seeing my sister, my sister's kids, my gramma, my best friends, my parents, my brand new furniture etc etc etc would do to me, in this equation, but it all came down to this: my sister had once wanted to do this kind of travelling, my nieces and nephew will one day benefit from my travel experience, my grandmother would want me to live my life, my best friends want someone to visit on the other side of the world, my parents can't keep me in their nest forever and my furniture will still be there when I get back.

Mentally, Barcelona has provided a little bit of clarity and freedom of wishing bigger than I had once hoped to, or had ever let myself. Had you told a 23-year-old me that I would be living in Barcelona within 4 months after my 27th birthday, I would have laughed you out of the room! I've become more self-assured since being here. Yes, I once moved to Toronto, by myself with only a few friends, and a boyfriend who dumped me within the first week of moving. And yes, that was the hardest summer of my life to-date. But my entire family and almost all of the rest of my friends were literally 1.5 hours down the highway. Here, I was actually quite alone. I knew two people in all of Europe when I moved here, and neither of them quite well. I now have friends that I will have for the rest of my life, that have taught me things and challenged me, helped me through tough times, supported me, housed me, fed me, loved me, teased me ("Canadia!!"), understood me, and best of all, cared about me. I could have never expected these things from people from such different backgrounds in this short amount of time. I appreciate all of the people I have shared time with here in Barcelona, and I feel like we'll always be connected because of our experiences here.

Spiritually, I can say that my spiritual life was lacking in Canada. I have faith, however, my faith in people was much lower than it should have ever gotten. Here, things didn't change change immediately, but the seasons are changing and as with seasons, they will all change with time. I was in winter hibernation mode, and spring is coming. My spirituality is taking a turn that I can't predict where it will lead me. (I should clarify that it's not that I don't trust people in general, I had a low expectation of people in the church, which is where my expectations should be highest, and met. This too shall pass.)

In terms of my physical person, I knew before I left that things would change when I got here. I wasn't sure if I would be more or less active (and knowing that this is a nation that likes wine, cheese and croissants, that could be a dangerous equation if there is little physical activity), and I wasn't sure if my styles and tastes would change. I was already hating all of my clothing in Canada, literally waking up every day to stare into the depths of my closet, try on everything I own, declare "I have nothing I want to wear", finally give up and put on something presentable and go to work. Even on the weekends, my wardrobe presented somewhat of a challenge to my tastes. I had decided that I would buy a new wardrobe once I was in Spain. I had stopped wearing most of my makeup, choosing to go for a more natural look most days, and spent little time making my hair look perfect (not all women roll out of bed looking perfect every day, though I'm finding it to be more of a regular thing since being here). With a new wardrobe and new way of making up my face, comes a new haircut. I knew before I left Canada that I'd want a new style once I was here, but I've always heard advice that you shouldn't change your hair right before a big event in your life. So, I decided to wait until I was here and got the rest of my style underway before really switching things up.

If you've read past blogs, you know that I chopped much of my hair off in the late fall, and have not looked back. I miss my long hair sometimes, but I feel like it was a curtain to hide behind. Well, it's been time to cut my hair again for a few weeks, so with the help of my lovely girlfriends back home, and their honesty, I have gotten yet another hair cut. Yes, this is what this blog was leading up to, but a woman's hair can sometimes define her, and can certainly give her confidence, so in my defense, it helps me not only physically, but emotionally and mentally as well (I don't think it matters one way or the other spiritually, but maybe I'll find that connection someday!).

So, to unveil:

 I love my new 'do!

(p.s. the first 4 pictures were taken on my balcony... in a tank-top... in JANUARY! It was only a bit chilly.)